Sunday, June 21, 2009

... a book in hand

The proof copy of COT-O came in the mail the other day. Surprisingly fast! Lulu usually took around two weeks.

The binding seems a bit shoddy, but lulu's tended to be shoddy sometimes too. The paper is bright white, much whiter than lulu's. One other issue is that the book warps. It's hard to really convey from the photos, but when it's left flat on the table it gets all wrinkly and the cover curls open. Not very good. Lulu doesn't do that.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

... it's what it costs

My fact-finding venture has produced results. It seems that Amazon's createspace does produce print on demand books for a few dollars cheaper than does. The biggest boon however should be in the shipping costs, as I know from experience that Lulu gouges on international shipping, and Amazon is, well, Amazon. Here's the publishing versions of the COT-O cover and the book itself.

I would like for the blog readers to check out the pdf file and offer any suggestions or comments about the formatting, as this is the prototype for how COT-R will be formatted.

Friday, June 12, 2009

... getting some distance

I decided it was about time to update with some information on COT-R since it is fairly relevant to that project. I gave this page some linkage as well as a new title image using an amazing bit of artwork done by Dominus. (It was a prototype for the 1st book's cover.) I am also toying with the term e-play (as a quick way of describing e-mail based role-play, along the lines of screen-play, radio-play, stage-play, and so forth) as a way to define the original work and to distinguish it from the rewrite. I plan to keep the original around, and not try to hide or cover it up, so I am thinking of ways to make it clear which I am talking about without having to say "the original" and "the rewrite".

In fact I've started formatting COT-O into a book for eventual publishing along with COT-R. On one level it's a good prototype to experiment with formatting and how I want everything to look, so that as I do the next revision and edit to COT-R I can format it for publishing then, rather than having to do another whole pass for that purpose. On another level, I am quite fond of the original, and I think many others are too, so it makes sense to make it available in book form as well. However, it will be done as-is, which means that whenever I typed solomon but meant solemn, the error stays. All of the errors are part of COT-O now, and thus they shall go with it to the printer and onto our shelves.

I think that about wraps things up for me for now. Everyone whom I had ever sent a copy of the unfinished COT-R now have a copy of the current draft whether they wanted it or not, so my fingers are crossed that I'll be getting some good critical feedback within the next few months. In the mean time, it's time to take off my writer's hat and try to focus on other things.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

... they've got us covered

Sent out emails/PMs to the four cover artists today, with their assignments and a template image for the proportions of the cover and where the spine goes. Here's the breakdown.

Book 1: - Jyre - Her climbing up Nightfall's tower (Dominus)
Book 2: - Ghost - Zombies and Hammerites on either side (redface)
Book 3: - James - Seated in a study overflowing with books (Ireth)
Book 4: - Lytha - Something to do with the Hammerite Castle (Julia)
Book 5: - Sheam - In the clutches of Balastar Ramirez (Ireth)
Book 6: - Nightfall - Dunno yet (Dominus)

I gave Ireth and redface more information than that... probably enough to get started. For Julia I tried to get the ball rolling with some speculation, as I am not sure yet exactly how the scene should be set up. Dom is already at work.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

... working it all out

I am stil trying to work COT out of my system as I ease into other projects.

The new poll is a double one so I did a strange multiple-choice answer system, since it's asking a pair of yes or no questions.

First question - should I name each of the six books? I believe no, because I do not want to give the illusion that they are in any way stand-alone novels to be picked up and read in any order. That's why I am calling each one "Book # of 6" and not just "Book #".

Second question - should I number each section? I can see this being useful during the editing process, so that someone need merely say "section 76" rather than the chapter number and the name of the section, but as I reader I think I would find it a little obnoxious to be reminded that I am reading section 124.

Any counter-arguments?

I've narrowed down basic ideas for each cover scene, but I still need to nail down the particulars before I contact the artists. I limited the options to scenes that are actually pertinent to the volume they adorn, while still tyring to choose moments that are both pivotal to the principal character they illustrate, and does not give any big spoilers away! In some cases I should maybe discuss it with the artists to see where their particular strengths want to pull the direction of the designs. Before I do any of that though, it would be really good if I gave the artists a template to work with, so that they'll know the exact proportions of the image, where the spine will be, where certain text is going, and so forth.

I made another decision regarding COT2 that I can probably talk about. (Be advised, actual writing work on COT2 will not begin for a long time, but it's fun to think about it right now!) I completely avoided the Keepers for COT-R, partially because I felt like they were never really adequately illustrated in Thief 1 & 2 for adaptation, and partially because I felt that they were summarily ruined in Thief 3 which presented the supposed all knowing keepers of the balance as confused naive clods. For COT2 I will bring them in, but if I do so, it will be with heavy modifications to who they are and what, exactly, they do. I may even redesign them from the ground up, with only the tiny peeks we got in Thief 1 (which I still consider the definative look at The Keepers) as guidelines. This would represent a signifigant break from the norm, where I tried very hard to keep things in line with what was seen in the games (though I did do a fairly large overhaul to the pagans, I did so without directly contradicting anything!)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

... for newcomers

I added this passage to the COT-R page on

How would you describe COT-R to newcomers?

It's like Thief (the PC game) meets 24 (the TV series). It's like a film-noir detective story set in an alternate reality 18th century European city, but with steam-powered technology and zombies and religious factions wielding real magical power. It's about six different people from different walks of life with very different needs and agendas, and how their stories weave together. It's social commentary mixed with horror and romance and violence and comedy. It's a thriller. It's a story where the characters are in charge and the author is along for the ride as much as the readers.

For those of you who have been reading COT-R, how would you describe it to a Thief fan or a non-fan?

... the current numbers

The red bar indicates the pre-chapter segue, and the blue the chapter itself. Click for big!

... dream, dream, dream

I kept dreaming of writing chapter 25, so I just got up. Make it stop! There is no chapter 25!

I sent out copies of the finished story to a few people, and am anxious to hear what they think. Only two of them are up-to-date on their reading, so I don't expect to get all of the impressions of the ending for a while yet. Now I need to try to relax and focus on other things.

Since a major point of this was to make COT2 actually possible, I will admit that I have been giving the sequel some serious thought lately. I even made a list (it's pretty long) of the things I no longer need to do in COT2 because they've been taken care of by the rewrite. I've decided that COT2 will probably be a collection of 24 short stories probably around the length of a COT chapter each. Some will be fairly stand alone, but others will link together into a longer narrative. It's not going to be the same long epic plot as COT was though, which means that if I want to stop at 8 or 16 chapters, I can. There won't be principals in COT2, but rather each story will have a set of characters who tell it, maybe sometimes just one, so the reader never know when a "chapter" will introduce a totally new main character. I am doing it this way because the story I want to tell has a very long timeframe (several years) and involves many seemingly (and actually) unrelated events in many non-local locations. Thus, trying to fit that into a novel-like framework would be disconcerting. It would lack a proper arc, and seem like just random stories and events. SO, that's exactly what I will present it as... a series of short stories.

What is not decided is when I'll do it though. If COT-R goes "live" and the community seems to love it and I get lots of orders for printed books, I'll gradually start working on COT2. If COT-R gets fairly ignored/panned, that's just my cue to start thinking about the other, totally original story ideas I've been brewing over the years.

Monday, June 8, 2009

It is Finished

(no ... so you know this is serious)

I dreamed all night about finishing COT, so when I got up this morning (around noon, I went to bed at 7 am after writing all night) I got to work. I never do this... it's usually impossible to write during the day.

I went over all I had written in Chapter 24, did some additions and tweaks, and then wrote the final scene. In a strange twist, the rewrite for the final scene was much shorter than the original. (And aside from the setup and the location, bore little resemblance to it!) When that was done I wrote the final segue, which isn't a segue since there was nothing to segue into... more like an afterword. Of course, it provided symmetry with the foreword. (something missing in the original!)

So that's it.

The 1st Draft of COT-R is finished.

... all but the last

The bulk of Chapter 24 is now "on paper" with only one more scene remaining (fans of the original may remember a certain epilogious meeting in Nightfall's tower) before I call it finished. Much of 24 is similar to the original's chapter 25, especially a certain conversation between Nightfall and James that served as a wrap-up for some loose ends. Of course, the contents of the conversation are much different, it's just the scene that's the same. In more ways, though, this chapter mirrors the first one of the rewrite.

(In the original they discussed the nature of evil vs. chaos, who the mysterious robed figures were, and what the summoned entity actually was. In COT-R chaos vs. evil has already been discussed, they know exactly who the figures are, and have no reason to further discuss the summoned entity... so they are freed up for other topics.)

Chapter 24 is going to end up being half the length of a normal chapter, but with the segues preceding it included, it will be just a hair short of the previously shortest chapter.

Another oddity... 24 is the first chapter I've written in a very long time without an outline.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

... if I say I'll do it I'll do something else

Naturally after writing that post I wound up not doing at all what I said I would. I worked on the segues that will make up a good portion of Chapter 24, each one of which is a coda to a character or group of characters. I was picky about who got one, limiting it to people or groups of people whose fate was still in question at the end of the story. If the character makes an appearance in Chapter 24, I did not include them, so for example (spoilers!) Jossimer, Richen, and Rembrandt didn't get one, but Thurm, Soore, and Othello did. I'm calling it done, but if I think of more characters I want to give a send-off to I'll put them in.

Friday, June 5, 2009

... plans for tonight

After a night off, it's time for work. Plans for tonight...
  • Outline and maybe start on Chapter 24... but probably just write up the outline.
  • Try to pin down what I want to see for the book covers and who I'd like to do which. There's still only four artists but I think that will be enough. I'm going to make each cover actually pertain to the volume it adorns, rather than just being a pivitol character moment.

I don't know why I made that into a list when there's just two points. Hm.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

... forum poll

I added a new poll asking now the blog readers feel about a finishing-forum. Granted, most of the blog readers probably wouldn't participate (unless you're one of my critics or proofreaders) so I guess they're not the right people to ask, but I felt like doing a poll anyway.

My main thought is that the forum would help me keep all of the comments in one place, rather than in dozens of emails and assorted text and word documents all over my computer. So it's less about the critics discussing things as a group and more about just making things easier for me to manage.

I guess I can address some of the topics of past polls too.

Each character's sections are headed by their name, a title, and a date. How should Daneel "Nightfall" Todulem's sections be headed?
The sections are headed with Nightfall, but his name is now Daelus Thresh.

Share your thoughts on the way this type of story should end.
Asymetrical but balanced was what I went with. There aren't six distinct endings, but each character still had their "moment".

Concerning things left open for COT2
This is more the domain of the unwritten chapter 24, but I already know that there's going to be no cliffhangers, rather a very strong emphasis on the idea that everything is still in motion.

Getting near the end here, the rewrite is no longer going to resemble the original much. That was always the plan. Feelings?
I think I already mentioned that there's plenty of pretty strong ties to the original's ending, but fans of the original will still have no idea what to expect.

If COT Book 6 ends up being too long for just four chapters...
Book 6 will be a perfect length, not too short and not too long. Four chapters, one a little long, one a little short.

... and now, the conclusion

Chapter 23 is now finished, and is the longest chapter of the story. The Pages of History. It's just a hair longer than chapter 3 was, at 28K words and some change. Chapter 3 was so long because it acted as the big introduction to the Thief universe for readers who have never played or heard of Thief. 23 on the other hand just needed alot of space to wrap things up to my satisfaction. All of the sections are fairly short, from 500 words to no more than 3K words (though most tend to be under 1K) so we bounce back and forth between the principals very quickly. Sheam gets the most page time of course (about 1/3rd of the chapter), given that her plot's climax was absent from 22. There's still a few lingering things left hanging at the end of this chapter to keep it feeling too much like the very last pages of the book, so I am not going to flake out and say to heck with 24 even though I could easily end the story here.

I've kept a copy of the original COT at the bottom of my main rewrite document (as tiny black text) and delete things from it as the rewrite overtakes it. There's still a few sections of tiny black text that haven't been removed yet.

I'm going to take a break before continuing though, probably saving the finish line for this weekend. I expect Chapter 24 to be fairly short.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

.. slowing down

I had really wanted to finish 23 tonight. I have just run out of steam though. It's at 21K words and there's still a good deal of ground to cover, and I don't want to try to write it while being simply exhausted.

One of two things will happen. I'll go to bed and pass out and then know that I really needed sleep, or I'll go to bed and feel wide away within an hour, at which point I will resume.

Monday, June 1, 2009

... emotionally dense

Emotionally dense is one way to describe Chapter 23, and that's probably why I am finding it so difficult to write! There's another reason - I find myself constantly needing to go back to earlier chapters to look up something I wanted to get the facts straight on. In tying up loose ends, it's often good to be clear on exactly what was loose about what ends.

I'm 12,000 words into it, which is probably half-done. There's still a great deal on the outline sheet that hasn't been grayed out, most of which is the harder stuff to put into words.

I find myself going back and forth from one section to the next, tweaking, fiddling, adjusting, adding, changing, on and on. It's expected, though. The ending is always the biggest challenge.

Edit: Close to 16K and calling it quits for the night!